Discuss the influences from Humanistic Psychology that have influenced the development of the Person Centred Approach.
By Helen-Ward “There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it. ” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 360) INTRODUCTION This essay will discuss the influences from Humanistic psychology that have influenced the person centred approach.Firstly it will look briefly at the origins of both humanistic Psychology and the person centred approach.
Secondly this essay will look in closer detail at two areas of humanistic psychology that influenced the development of Carl Rogers person centred approach, the theory of the self and self actualization. Lastly it will look at the applications of this approach in a modern setting. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY The humanistic psychology movement was formed in the 1950’s in response to some psychologist’s deep dissatisfaction of the dominant role that behaviourism and psychoanalysis had in psychology.It started as a think tank led by Abraham Maslow where themes such as self actualization, creativity, intrinsic nature, being, meaning nd individuality where discussed (Hara, 2012). By 1965 it had over five hundred members. It was an eclectic melting pot of thoughts at the beginning but in time the major ideas and leaders were to emerge. Among them were Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers and Rollo May (Decarvalho, 1991).
Today its concepts are taught in colleges and schools all over the world.The Association for Humanistic Psychology provides a forum for people from every corner of the world to share and discuss their ideas, thoughts and feelings on many humanistic issues. Humanistic psychology focuses on the person as a whole and how the person experiences the world.
It rejects the belief that an individual is guided primarily by unconscious motivation as in psychoanalysis or by conditioning forces as in behaviourism. Instead it emphasises the importance of personal choice and responsibility.The belief is that everyone is innately good and has the potential to reach self actualization. Abraham Maslow called it the third force’ in psychology, behaviourism being the first and psychoanalysis being the second (Cherry, 2012). Humanistic psychology can be viewed as more than a discipline within psychology; it can be seen as a perspective n the human condition that lends itself to psychological research and practice (Wikipedia, 2013). Carl Rogers Person Centred Approach is one of these practices.
Carl Rogers started his academic career studying firstly agriculture then history then religion.While studying religion he started to question his religious conviction and after revaluing his career path he started to study psychology. His early years as a therapist where guided by the psychodynamic approach. Following three events in dealing with patients he became disillusioned with the directive approaches to therapy and started to develop his non directive approach. He referred to the people seeking therapy as clients, this demonstrated his feeling that they were both equally partaking in the process.The non-directive approach stated that the client not the therapist knows the objective of therapy best and also the direction to go to achieve the objective (Demorest, 2005). As in humanistic psychology the person centred approach focuses on the person as a whole.
Rogers developed his humanistic approach to include three core conditions of empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence. In addition to this Rogers felt that there had to be a deep, real ense of communication and unity between the therapist and client. The therapeutic relationship between client and therapist was paramount to growth.The aim is to give the client the opportunity to develop their sense of self and to enable positive growth that is driven and actualized by them. Although it has been criticised for lacking in structure it has been proven by Carl Rogers own empirical evaluation to be effective. Two areas within Carl Rogers approach to therapy which were influenced by humanistic psychology concepts will be further discussed now. THEORY OF THE SELF The concept of self has been philosophised about for a long time. The philosopher Descartes in the seventeenth century referred to the awareness of one’s self as ‘cognitd.
Freud used the term ‘ego’ to refer to the part of personality that has conscious awareness (Thomas, 1990). Humanistic psychology places the persons feeling, emotions and thoughts at the core. Carl Rogers elaborated on this in his theory of self. Carl Rogers theory of self is humanistic and phenominogical. He broke down the concept of self into three parts – self image, self esteem and ideal self.
Self image is the person that is shown to other people. This image does not always reflect truthfully who you are. It is the side that is shown to others in order to win their approval.It is formed through childhood and is impacted by how others react to your core self and how you perceive yourself in the wider world. A child who receives negativity instead of positive regard can create confusion around their self concept. They act as they should instead of how they feel. Self esteem is linked to this self image.
It refers to how much they like or approve of themselves and how much they value themselves. Someone who feels that approval or love is only gained when they act as the person they feel others want them to be is living through a false self.Their value as a person will be based in others rather than within. This will lead to low self worth and low self esteem (O’Farrell, 2004). The ideal self is what you would like to be. The relationship between self image, ego ideal and self esteem can affect how much you value yourself. If there is an imbalance between self image referred to the inconsistency of your experiences in your life and your ideal self as incongruence. He felt that the development of congruence was dependent on unconditional positive regard (McLeod, 2008).
Within the person centred approach unconditional positive regard is one of the core conditions. According to Carl Rogers when the client opens up and talks about the parts of themselves that they consider unacceptable and awful and the therapist shows consistent unconditional positive regard, then the client starts to become more acceptant of who they are as a whole. The client starts to adopt the same attitude towards themselves as the therapist has. This creates an environment where the client can then move forward in the process of becoming (Rogers, 1961).SELF ACTUALIZATION Another concept of humanistic psychology is the belief that everyone has an innate drive to achieve their maximum potential. Abraham Maslow a founding member of the humanist Psychology movement wrote about this concept in his paper ‘A theory of human motivation’.
He said a person must pass through a hierarchy of needs in order to reach self actualization. Carl Rogers developed his own understanding of self actualization and incorporated it in his person centred approach. Carl Rogers person centred approach believed that people did not only strive for their basic need of food, shelter, water etc to be met.He felt that there was a deeper motive that influenced our lives. He called this motive the actualizing tendency (Glassman & Hadad, 2004). According to Carl Rogers it is “the urge to expand, extend, develop, mature – the tendency to express and activate all capacities of the organism or the self” (Rogers, 1961, p. 351).
The person centred approach aims to increase a person’s feeling of self worth and balance out or reduce the level of incongruence between the ideal self and the actual self. In doing this a person could become a fully functioning person (McLeod, 2008).It is felt that by listening to a client you would learn about their phenomenal field, which is the perception of the world they live in. By displaying empathy, by having unconditional positive regard and by showing congruence the conditions for healthy development of personality occur and a person’s natural tendency toward self actualization commences (Glassman & Hadad, 2004). OTHER APPLICATIONS Carl Rogers humanistic person centred approach contributed to the shift from teacher centred learning to student centred learning. The ‘educate together’ schools in Ireland are an example of student centred learning.This change in education allowed for the student to have choice in their learning.
They became an active participant instead of a passive receiver of information. Rogers did however feel that a precondition for this style of education was the need for the teacher to be secure enough within themselves and in their relationship to others, in order to experience trust in the ability of the student to think and learn for themselves (Geraldine O’Neill, 2005). Rogers was also to use his person centred approach in the area of conflict resolution.He went to countries experiencing conflict such as Northern Ireland, and the concepts of humanistic psychology in order to build the bridge and enable honest and open communication between the warring sides. Professor Whiteley of he University of California interviewed Carl Rogers in 1985 for his ‘Quest for peace interviews’.
In the interview Rogers spoke about his experience in Northern Ireland and how in the beginning hostilities were very high between the factious sides, but after “they were encouraged to express their feelings, and their feelings were understood and accepted and not Judged, then defences came down” (Whiteley, 2007).His intervention in the North was to start some people on a different peaceful road. CONCLUSION The International Humanistic and Ethical Union have written in their constitution that humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives” (Admin, 2009).
Humanistic psychology was to emerge from this philosophy and Carl Rogers was to implement this belief in his person centred approach to therapy.The development of his approach always had at its core the belief in the ability of humans to direct and facilitate their own change. Of great importance was also how a person experiences their own world. The belief is if you want to understand behaviour you must understand the person producing the behaviour (Glassman & Hadad, 2004). Both the person centred approach and humanistic psychology have grown in popularity over the last sixty years. They have unifying beliefs, as they argue that all people have the same basic needs regardless of gender, culture or their background.The person centred approach is used effectively in other areas such as education, nursing, social work, cross-cultural relations and interpersonal relations.
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